A Day for Australia and India

It’s a little bit cool in Dehli today. The forecast is for a maximum of 18 degrees and a few thunderstorms. I’d be keen to take that over Perth’s forecast 40 degrees today.

There’s another reason I wouldn’t mind being in India today.

While in Australia millions will be celebrating Australia Day, half a world away India will be celebrating their 68th Republic Day. I like the fact that I get to celebrate two countries that I love on the same day. I don’t know if it will ever happen but one year I’d love to be in India for Republic Day.

Though India became a free nation on August 15, 1947, it declared itself a Sovereign, Democratic and Republic state with the adoption of the Constitution on January 26, 1950.

A salute of 21 guns and the unfurling of the Indian National Flag by Dr. Rajendra Prasad heralded the historic birth of the Indian Republic on that day. Thereafter 26th of January was decreed a national holiday and was recognised as the Republic Day of India.

The Constitution gave the citizens of India the power to choose their own government and paved the way for democracy. Dr. Rajendra Prasad took oath as the first President of India at the Durbar Hall in Government House and this was followed by the Presidential drive along a five-mile route to the Irwin Stadium, where he unfurled the National Flag. – Know India

I’ve had the privilege of visiting India three times over several years. It’s a truly amazing place. While I’ll be celebrating at home today I’ll be thinking of friends in India.

I wrote recently about the first of my three adventures in India. It’s an incredible country and I do hope that one day I’ll get to visit again.

Below is a video of that first trip to India in 2003. I was joined by several locals to ride from Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, to Delhi, as well as cycling around Delhi. I was there as a guest of the Bible Society. It’s just a short video and I hope you enjoy watching it.

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Soundtrack of My Life – Ain’t No Doubt

Soundtrack of my LifeJimmy Nail has been described as English actor, singer-songwriter, musician, film producer, film score composer and television writer.

However you see him, there ain’t no doubt that his hit song from 1992 sounds brilliant with the volume turned all the way up.

This is one of a regular series of articles highlighting some of the music that has played a part in my life. You’ll find a range of songs from old to new. Whether it’s the lyrics, the music, a time in my life, or a combination of reasons, the songs in my soundtrack are part of who I am.

If you take a good look you’ll probably find music that has been part of the soundtrack of your life too. You can also check out some of the other songs that make up the soundtrack of my life.

Ain’t No Doubt – Jimmy Nail

While Jimmy Nail’s music has charted several times in the UK, his only song to have made it to the charts in Australia, rising to number 5, is Ain’t No Doubt. The song did well in a number of other countries but again it did best in the UK where the single spent three weeks at the top of the Singles Chart after grabbing the number one spot in July 1992.

I don’t think there’s any deep or significant reason that I consider it to be part of the soundtrack of my life apart from the fact that it’s just a great song with incredible horns.


I’d encourage you to get involved too. Let me know about some of the songs that are etched in your mind. What are the tunes that bring back a flood of memories every time their opening notes start cranking out on your stereo? Are there songs you love for their music and others that speak deeply through their lyrics?

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My First Adventure in India


(Click on any of the photos in this post for a better look.)

I really had no idea what to expect. It was February 2003 and I was travelling to India with my friend Mark Simpfendorfer for the first time. We were invited by Richard Kahn, Senior Auxiliary Secretary of NWIA, The Bible Society of India. I was going to ride, Mark was going to capture our adventure on video.

Recently I was looking through some old photos and the memories of that amazing adventure came flooding back. Even though it was around fourteen years ago some memories are as fresh as if it was yesterday. At the time I was working for the Bible Society in Western Australia, coordinating the Bike for Bibles program. The plan was to lend a hand in starting some form of Bike for Bibles in India.

We flew into Delhi feeling apprehensive, but the moment that I walked out into the carpark of the international airport and saw a few cows wandering past I felt relaxed and ready for whatever we were about to experience.

A major part of our trip was a ride from Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, to Delhi. I had my trusty Mountain Bike. There were several young locals who joined me on their Indian bikes. The cycling was a lot of fun but the people we met and friendships we forged made our time there unforgettable.

When we rode into Delhi there was a huge ceremony at India Gate.

There were hundreds of school children among the crowd there to enjoy a number of performances from dancers and even Bollywood singer turned gospel performer, Vijay Benedict.



We were welcomed by many dignitaries and church leaders including the Chief Minister of Delhi at the time, Sheila Dickshit.

There was also a large media contingent waiting for our arrival.

The event was widely reported with articles such as the one below from the Hindustan Times.

Biking For The Bible, Olsen Has The Right Spirit
Meeta Mishra (Hindustan Times – February 2003)

Cycling down from Agra to Delhi threw a lot of surprises at Rodney Olsen, and traffic was not one of them. “Riding here is similar to that in Australia. We ride on the same side of the road. The highway between the two cities is wonderful. It took us three days to reach Delhi but it is a lot of fun because at every kilometre there is something different to see. What is striking about the people here is that they are so giving,” says the Western Australia coordinator of Bike For Bibles.

On his first visit to India, Olsen was here to lead the bicycle rally organised by The Bible Society of India, North-West India Auxiliary, to mark its Golden Jubilee celebrations. The rally was organised to promote peace and prosperity. Olsen and Mark Simpfendorfer, a video cameraman accompanying him, were felicitated at India Gate by chief minister Sheila Dikshit on February 8. The funds raised from the rally will go into spreading literacy in India. “This is also a way to strengthen the ties between Australia and India,” said the 39-year-old cyclist.

This is not the first time that Olsen has cycled down such a long distance, he has been part of Bike for Bibles Fund Raising since ’87 when he covered the ride from Perth to Canberra.

Olsen has also worked at Perth’s Christian Radio Station. As he packed to leave for his home country, the cyclist says the predictable: “I’d like to return and explore other parts of India.” He is, of course, welcome.

There were many other articles written about our ride. More than 15 newspapers carried stories on the event as well as a lot of attention from both radio and television.



That first visit gave me a real love for India and its people. I’ve had the opportunity to return a couple of times since then and I certainly hope I’ll make it back there again some time. It’s an amazing country.

As I mentioned, my great friend, Mark Simpfendorfer joined me on that trip and captured the trip on video and produced this short clip. Here’s the clip to give you a quick idea of the two weeks of that trip.

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Soundtrack of My Life – Rehab

Soundtrack of my LifeIt’s really hard for me to listen to this song without wishing that Amy had spent a little more time in rehab rather than writing a song about not going.

If she hadn’t been so determined to say no, no, no we might still be hearing new music from her or even celebrating her talent while letting her retire from the public eye to enjoy a life less destructive.

This is one of a regular series of articles highlighting some of the music that has played a part in my life. You’ll find a range of songs from old to new. Whether it’s the lyrics, the music, a time in my life, or a combination of reasons, the songs in my soundtrack are part of who I am.

If you take a good look you’ll probably find music that has been part of the soundtrack of your life too. You can also check out some of the other songs that make up the soundtrack of my life.

Rehab – Amy Winehouse

There’s no doubt that Amy Winehouse led a troubled and short life.

The song Rehab, released in 2006, won three Grammy Awards including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

Around a year after the song was released Karen Heller of The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote about the tragedy that was unfolding in clear view of the world.

The evolving tragedy of Amy shows no signs of quitting. It’s playing out daily before us like a slo-mo car crash we’re unable to stop. The unfettered access is creepy. It’s like we’re camped out in her bedroom closet, peeking at every disaster. ….

… She’s only 24 with six Grammy nominations, crashing headfirst into success and despair, with a codependent husband in jail, exhibitionist parents with questionable judgement, and the paparazzi documenting her emotional and physical distress. Meanwhile, a haute designer Karl Lagerfeld appropriates her dishevelled style and eating issues to market to the elite while proclaiming her the new Bardot. – The Philadelphia Inquirer

Heller’s complete article is worth reading. No one could say that we didn’t see the road ahead for Amy. Heller had clearly pointed to the consequences of what we were seeing, even to the point of mentioning a number of others who had achieved early fame before dying too soon at the age of 27. Several years later on the 23rd of July 2011, also at the age of 27, Amy Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning.

Amy’s music will always be part of the soundtrack of my life. She was enormously talented but talent alone is never enough to guarantee a satisfied life.

I’d encourage you to get involved too. Let me know about some of the songs that are etched in your mind. What are the tunes that bring back a flood of memories every time their opening notes start cranking out on your stereo? Are there songs you love for their music and others that speak deeply through their lyrics?

Do you think some of your friends would enjoy reading Soundtrack of My Life – Rehab? Please use the buttons below to share the post. Thanks. 🙂

Feeling Dispensable

I’m completely dispensable.

If I left my job tomorrow there’d be a time of adjustment but everything would carry on. I’m not an essential cog in the wheel.

This is the final week of four weeks annual leave for me and I’m feeling less and less like a required piece of the picture. The truth is that Compassion survived and grew for over 60 years without me before I began working there and they’ll keep operating long after I’m gone.

I’m starting to feel like I’m not needed at work.

… and that’s a good thing.

I have every intention of continuing to work for Compassion for many years to come. I believe passionately in what we do and want to be part of that for as long as possible but there’s something about a few weeks away from work that brings a certain kind of clarity.

When we’re busy keeping up with the demands of a job, and I think this is especially true of jobs in Christian ministry, we can start to take on a weight we were never meant to bear. We start to believe that we’re irreplaceable and if we’re not working all the time everything will collapse. We grab a week’s leave here or two weeks there, never daring to take more than that because there’d be nothing left by the time we returned.

It’s not necessarily an ego thing or an inflated sense of self-importance, it’s more about becoming so busy juggling all the balls our job requires that we become convinced that the moment we step away, even for a time, all those balls will come crashing down. That sense of needing to be available all the time builds slowly and most often sub-consciously. It’s rarely an expectation from our employers, rather it’s a false expectation that comes from within.

I’ve spoken to a number of people, especially pastors and ministry leaders, who have weeks and weeks, sometimes months, of unused leave that they don’t believe they can take.

I sometimes wonder which is the greatest fear for some of these people; that things would crumble without them around or that things would continue largely unchanged.

Taking several weeks of leave at a time allows us to step outside our own expectations and demands. I’ve found at this and other jobs that after a good chunk of leave I return to work feeling less like I’m essential and more like I have an important role to fulfil. I find that the weight of my own unrealistic expectations is less, which helps me focus more on what I’m really meant to be doing. It helps me become more productive and more effective at the tasks at hand.

I’m excited about my work in 2017. I know that it’s going to be busy and productive, with all the ups and downs, thrills and disappointments that come with such a job. I’m looking forward to getting a new year underway. I’ll return to work in a few days knowing that while I’m not essential for the long-term effectiveness of the ministry, I have the privilege of playing a part, an important part, in what we need to achieve over the next twelve months.

When was the last time you stepped away from work for an extended period?

Do you find that you only take a couple of weeks at a time and return to work just as frazzled as when you left? Are your own expectations becoming a burden that you’re not sure you can continue to carry?

If you’re one of those people who ‘do holidays well’ maybe you can leave a few comments about how you make your annual leave work for you.

I’m really glad that I’m not needed at work, but I’m absolutely thrilled that I get to work doing something I love.

Do you think some of your friends would enjoy reading Feeling Dispensable? Please use the buttons below to share the post. Thanks. 🙂